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An American TCM doctor's coronavirus fight in China

2020-February-23       Source: Xinhuanet.com

A 63-year-old American TCM doctor's fight against coronavirus epidemic in China.

John Cary feels a patient's pulse in a clinic of traditional Chinese medicine in Yinchuan, northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region on Feb. 13, 2020. (Xinhua/Feng Kaihua)

A 63-year-old American TCM doctor's fight against coronavirus epidemic in China.

Inside a clinic of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, John Cary expertly felt for a patient's pulse. After a while, the 63-year-old American's eyes widened as a thought crossed his mind.

"Are you suffering from insomnia or having night sweats these days?" asked Tang Lilong, John's mentor and a professor at the Hospital of TCM and Hui Medicine Affiliated to Ningxia Medical University. Since John could not speak Chinese, he asked Tang to help translate the questions.

The patient nodded. John felt encouraged and stood up to press certain acupoints on the patient's back. Under Tang's guidance, he wrote a prescription for the patient.

After seeing the patient off, he said: "I don't know much Chinese, but I do know that he said thanks to me just now."

John wore full protective gear as he knew it was necessary due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. But still, he volunteered to offer medical consultation twice a week at the hospital.

"I'm unable to help on the frontlines, but I can still relieve the pain of patients here and help them relax," he said.

John is from LaGrange, a small town south of Atlanta in Georgia. About 30 years ago, he had a serious headache and took a lot of medicine that did not work. By coincidence, he took a friend's advise and his headache was cured through acupuncture by a doctor of oriental medicine in Atlanta.

"So I quit my job and began to learn TCM from scratch," he said.

After he got a dual degree of TCM and acupuncture at a TCM college in Texas, he opened clinics in Texas, Alabama and Georgia, and named his clinics "Cary Health Alternatives."

"All my patients were American. I got very busy because I was getting results that other doctors were not," he said.

He had to fly or drive to work in four locations every week. As a result, he got a lot of experience.

"And after about 11 years, I got tired of working every day, no vacations and working 17 or 18 hours a day," he said. So he took a teaching job in the Republic of Korea and taught there for seven years before going to teach in Iraq. When the war in Iraq was getting stronger, he decided to come "home" -- the home of Chinese medicine.

"I've been here for about five years and lived in four cities in China," he said. Now he teaches English, Chinese medicine and medical English in three different departments of Ningxia Medical University.

"I'm always learning Chinese medicine. It will not cure everything. Western medicine will not cure everything, but together they can do a lot of help," he said.

John Cary practices acupuncture on a patient in a clinic of traditional Chinese medicine in Yinchuan, northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region on Feb. 13, 2020. (Xinhua/Feng Kaihua)

Having learned that China is battling the coronavirus epidemic, he wanted to chip in for the fight. With the consent of the hospital, he once again put on a doctor's white coat and became an intern TCM doctor.

"Over the past month, I noticed that John has some good insights on pulse-feeling and acupuncture. He volunteered to offer help at the hospital, and we were all very touched. I really want to help him progress further in TCM treatment," said Tang.

Patients seeking TCM treatment were skeptical at first when they saw a foreign doctor taking their pulses. But when they heard his diagnoses that matched their symptoms, they were convinced.

"John is very good at psychological counseling. Many patients said to me that they felt very relaxed after talking to John," Tang said.

John's apartment is about a 10 minutes' walk from the hospital. As residents have been advised to stay indoors to curb the spread of the virus, he has stays home most of the time.

"I write books and watch movies. I exercise. I have a good fitness room in my house. The school has been looking after the teachers. They brought us food. They told us to take our temperature every day and send it to the school. I never get bored," he said.

"The virus has one job: survival. We have one job: survival. One has to be stronger than the other, but it can change quickly. So tell people do not let your guard down because if you do, the bugs will win," he said.

Editor: Monica Liu

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